Mid-September 2017 saw the last of a total of 116 turbines installed on the Rampion offshore windfarm off the south coast of the UK
Since the first MHI Vestas 3.45 MW turbine was installed for the Rampion offshore windfarm in early March 2017, two jack-up vessels – MPI Discovery and MPI Adventure – have been at work on the project. Together, the vessels have been transporting the components for eight turbines at a time from Esbjerg in Denmark to the site, which is 13 km off the Sussex coast.
Each turbine consists of an 80 m tower, weighing approximately 200 tonnes, which has been lifted and positioned on a foundation; a nacelle, fitted to the top of each tower, which houses the generator and gearbox; and three blades, each measuring 55 m in length, which have been hoisted and connected one at a time.
Rampion Offshore Windfarm development and stakeholder manager for the project, Chris Tomlinson, said “We’re proud to have achieved this feat, installing all 116 turbines, ahead of schedule, in just over six months. This milestone sees the safe installation of all physical components visible above sea level, representing the full extent of the windfarm.
“Since the spring of 2017 we have also completed the lay and burial of 112 km of array cables, which connect the turbines to the offshore substation, which was installed in April.
“We now look forward to Rampion’s first generation of electricity later this year and to working towards completion and full operation in 2018.”
Further construction and commissioning work will now continue on the offshore and onshore substations, as well as work to complete the onshore cable route, before the electrical infrastructure is complete and ready to carry power generated by the windfarm.
According to consultancy and market research company 4C Offshore, first power from the project was originally anticipated in 3Q 2017, but this plan was delayed, possibly, it said, due to cabling issues.
With offshore construction approaching completion, work continues on land, with the operations and maintenance (O&M) base for Rampion due to be completed in 2018. The base will be home to a 60-strong (O&M) team, who will operate the windfarm once it is constructed. The new facility will incorporate offices and welfare facilities, as well as an industrial warehouse for storage of parts and equipment for the maintenance of the windfarm.
The 400 MW project is being built by Eon, the UK Green Investment Bank Ltd and Canadian energy infrastructure company Enbridge. When complete it will provide enough electricity to supply almost 347,000 homes a year, equivalent to around half the homes in Sussex.
Development of Rampion commenced in 2010 after Eon was awarded the exclusive rights to develop the area by The Crown Estate. It then started to undertake engineering and environmental surveys, and early stakeholder engagement to inform draft proposals. In 2012 the company consulted on the initial proposals, which included a 12-week community consultation period where we sought views on the project.
As a result of continuing consultation and engineering design works, the proposed project continued to be refined, and in March 2013 Eon submitted an application for a development consent order to the (then) Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change. The project plans and documents that we submitted were formally examined by the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of the Secretary of State, from July 2013 to January 2014.
On 16 July 2014, the Secretary of State formally granted consent for the Rampion project, which is now set to become the first windfarm off the south coast of England.